• A Computerized Look at Horse of the Year

    POSTED Jan 4, 2013
    There’s an unwritten rule in gambling and politics that to get at the truth one needs only to “follow the money.”

    Popularized in the 1976 Academy Award-winning film “All the President’s Men,” the phrase was supposedly uttered by Deep Throat, the anonymous source that helped Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward unearth the Watergate Scandal. In truth — or at least according to the book of the same name — Deep Throat never actually said “follow the money” or even “show me the money,” but, hey, it’s still a great quote.

    In sporting circles, of course, the notion of following the money typically refers to the betting. After all, it is little secret that betting lines and pari-mutuel pools are generally efficient — certainly more so than polls and voting contests… which brings me to this year’s Horse of the Year award.

    While I appreciate that Horse of the Year means different things to different people, I wondered what the odds might look like should the top contenders for the award actually meet on the racetrack. Now, I’m aware that such a meeting would not necessarily prove which horse is best — a single race rarely does – but at the very least it would give one an idea as to who the public thought was best.

    Unfortunately, I can’t tell you how the public would have wagered on a Horse of the Year contest… I know, I know, I dangle the carrot and then I yank it away. However, I can show you what my computerized fair odds line looks like (the carrot has returned).

    Let’s start with some ground rules:

    1) Our mythical race is 1-1/8 miles long. Yes, I know that 10 furlongs is considered a “classic” distance and is, perhaps, a more logical choice. However, I wanted to find a middle ground for the milers like Wise Dan and the marathon runners like Little Mike.

    2) All the horses will be rated on their current, year-ending form and assumed to be coming into the race on equal rest, with the exception of I’ll Have Another, who was retired with an injury prior to the Belmont Stakes in June and, therefore, get an “unknown” (UK) Win Factor Rating.

    So, with that out of the way, the winner of the 2013 Horse of the Year award, based on ability and current form, is (drum roll please)…

    (Click on image to enlarge)
    I’ve got to admit, even though the rankings above are computer-derived, I can’t argue very much with them. I do, in fact, think Wise Dan is the most talented of the Horse-of-the-Year contenders and, regardless of the front-speed bias that many believed aided Fort Larned in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, there is no denying that his effort in that event was superb. I also think that the gap between him and I’ll Have Another is justified.

    Of course, I expect that Groupie Doll’s fans will balk at the fact that my Win Factor Report ranks her last among the Horse of the Year candidates, but personally I think that’s fair. Remember, our mythical race is at nine — not six or seven — furlongs and Groupie Doll was 0-for-3 routing in 2012. In fact, the daughter of Bowman’s Band has never won beyond a mile.

    As for Wise Dan on top, that makes perfect sense to me. As I’ve stated numerous times before, I think he is a great talent and a horse proven over multiple surfaces and at multiple distances. What’s not to like?

    We’ll find out on Jan. 19.

    Weekend Win Factor Reports


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